FOOTBALL journalist (and Reading fan) Adam Goodwin (@AGJournalism) takes a look at the Royals' visit to Old Trafford in the FA Cup 3rd Round on Saturday.
Man Utd v Reading | Saturday 5th January 2019, 12:45 | BTSport
Struggling Reading travel to a resurgent Manchester United on Saturday and it’ll take a minor miracle for the Royals to reach this seasons FA Cup fourth round.
Manchester United have won this trophy 12 times in their history, and after some positive performances under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, they’ll be confident in going some way in winning their 13th with a win over Reading on Saturday.
It looks likely that Solskjaer will be integrating some of the United youngsters into the first-team picture and we might see some of those taking part here. The likes of Andreas Pereira, Mason Greenwod, Angel Gomes, DJ Buffonge and RoShaun Williams have all been training with the first-team squad so don’t be surprised to see some of these names on the teamsheet on Saturday. They’ll all be hungry to impress the new Red Devils boss. We may also see the return of Alexis Sanchez, who is back in training this week, and the Chilean has nine goals in this competition since his transfer to Arsenal.
They have been knocked out of the FA Cup 3rd round twice in the last ten years, both at home, and with one of those occasions coming against League One side Leeds United. Whilst some strange things can happen in this competition, I don’t think United losing this game will be one of them, and I can find no reason why they won’t comfortably beat this Reading side.
New Reading boss Jose Gomes has come to the club at a really tricky time, with the Royals languishing in the Championship relegation zone. He’s lost two and drawn one of his first three games in charge, and the 4-1 loss to Swansea at home on Tuesday was the sign of a side in real trouble.
Gomes has opted for a possession-based style of football since arriving in Berkshire, with his side dominating the ball in all three of his games in charge. Reading played a similar style under Jaap Stam, where they reached the play-off final, and where they were also beaten 4-0 by Manchester United at this stage of the tournament two years ago. Reading had 55% of the possession that day and, whilst Jose Mourinho’s side were pretty inactive in wanting to win the ball back, they were gifted the ball through mistakes by the Royals defence. I can see a similar scenario on Saturday, but with Solskjaer’s side far keener to get the ball back, which could spell trouble for a Reading defence lacking in confidence.
After the game on Tuesday, he said that he would be telling his players who he wants to keep and who he wants to get rid of, highlighting the need for a fresher and smaller squad. But, more interestingly, he spoke about how his players should “enjoy” Saturday’s game at Old Trafford and how there’s no pressure on his squad. I agree with this, and I think you can expect to see Reading come out on Saturday playing a possession-based style of football with no fear. Whether this will be enough to get anything out of the game, I highly doubt it.
I’m confident that Manchester United will win this game and the bookies are too, pricing the home side up as short as 1/10 in places. As a Reading fan, I’d love to predict a win for the Royals on Saturday, but I just can’t see it happening.
I’m going to delve into the goalscorer markets for this one and, without knowing the team news just yet, I fancy the youngsters to run riot at Old Trafford. You can back Jesse Lingard to score anytime at 6/4 with Sport Pesa which looks like nice value, especially as he’s just starting to find some form and scored in the final of this competition a few years back. You can also back Marcus Rashford to score anytime at 10/11 with Sport Pesa, and he scored twice in this fixture back in 2017.
I like to look of both of those as singles, and you can back them both to score in a double at 9/2 with Bet 365’s Bet Builder. I think it could be another 3/4/5-0 so I can see this coming in quite comfortably if both players start.
Jesse Lingard to score anytime 6/4
Marcus Rashford to score anytime 10/11
Anytime goalscorer double (BetBuilder) 9/2 Bet365